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News Release

For immediate use

Jan. 8, 2007

Note: To view Kiplinger's article, click here.

UNC ranks 1st on Kiplinger's list of best
academic values for 6th straight time

CHAPEL HILL - The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ranks number one on the list of best values among the nation's top 100 public universities, according to Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine.

That marks the sixth consecutive time UNC-Chapel Hill has topped the magazine's list since it began publishing its periodic analysis in 1998.

Kiplinger's February issue, which hits newsstands Tuesday (Jan. 9), examined data from 500 public four-year colleges and universities to identify the top 100 schools that offer the best "combination of outstanding academic quality plus an affordable price tag."

Kiplinger's listed the University of Florida second, College of William and Mary third, University of Virginia fourth and Binghamton University fifth. Rounding out the top 10, respectively, were New College of Florida, State University of New York at Geneseo and the universities of California, San Diego, Washington and Georgia. Other UNC system schools were N.C. State, 12th, Appalachian State, 31st, UNC-Wilmington, 35th, UNC-Asheville, 36th and UNC-Greensboro, 53rd.

"UNC-Chapel Hill offers talented students the opportunity to learn in a high-quality academic environment," said Chancellor James Moeser. Through the Carolina Covenant and an excellent overall financial aid program, we are making college possible for qualified students regardless of their financial means. Our policies and practices protect access and affordability, and we are pleased to again be recognized nationally for taking an approach that truly reflects the university's core values."

Kiplinger's story reported, "Tar Heel students pay $13,584 or less and get small classes, a top-notch faculty and a supportive environment that enables 84% of students to earn a degree within six years. That winning formula attracts top students from both in and out of state."

The magazine's article, "Best Values in Public Colleges," said UNC remained the magazine's top campus after an analysis that first stressed academic quality, including the percentage of the 2005-06 freshman class scoring 600 or higher on the verbal and math components of the SAT, admission rates, freshman retention rates, student-faculty ratios and four- and six-year graduation rates.

Then the magazine ranked each school based on cost and financial aid. The formula included analysis of the total cost for in-state students, the average cost for a student with need after subtracting grants (but not loans), average cost for a student without need after eliminating non-need-based grants, average percentage of need met by need-based financial aid, and the average debt a student accumulates before graduation. Out-of-state rankings considered total and average costs after accounting for aid. The magazine gives more weight to academic quality than costs in its formula. Kiplinger's staff first combed through data compiled by Peterson's/Nelnet, a firm that collects college information, and supplemented that with original reporting.

Kiplinger's story mentioned UNC's focus on building a successful financial aid program on the foundation of a model need-based aid program - unlike some campuses that place more emphasis on merit-based programs. The story also noted UNC's success in meeting 100 percent of each student's financial need and the Carolina Covenant, the nationally recognized program at UNC that provides a debt-free education to qualified low-income students.

The Carolina Covenant, a first for a major public university when it was announced in 2003, has been the model for more than two dozen other private and public campuses developing similar programs. Eligible students agree to work on campus 10 to 12 hours weekly in a federal work-study job, and UNC meets the remaining needs through federal, state, university and other privately funded grants and scholarships. Beginning in fall 2005, students and their families had to be at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. That covers a family of four with an annual income of about $38,000.

Last fall, UNC enrolled its third class of Carolina Covenant Scholars. In all, UNC has awarded more than 950 Carolina Covenant Scholars. The university also launched a mentoring component of the program matching students with volunteer faculty to support them in their daily lives and help them further engage with the Carolina community. Goals include supporting student success and successful graduation. This year the mentoring expanded to include peers offering support to the incoming Covenant Scholars.

UNC consistently ranks among the national leaders in making education financially accessible to students. Carolina also meets the full need of middle-income students, with financial aid packages comprised of two-thirds grants and scholarships and one-third loans and work-study. (Aid packages at many public universities are closer to one-half loans and one-half grants.)

UNC's own measures of excellence emphasize progress among indicators that the university provides an outstanding, intellectually challenging liberal arts education for undergraduates. The university has invested its resources based on key priorities such as class size. In 2005, 50 percent of UNC's course sections enrolled fewer than 20 students. That was third behind UNC's public peer campuses. Only 11 percent of course sections enrolled 50 or more students, tops among UNC's four other top public peers.

The university's student retention and graduation rates are among the nation's best, and it ranks among the public research universities recording the highest rate of undergraduates studying abroad. UNC students also have successfully competed for top national and international scholarships and fellowships. This year, UNC produced two Rhodes Scholars - Adrian Johnston and Ben Lundin. Overall, 41 Rhodes Scholars have come from Chapel Hill; six UNC students received the honor in the past five years. Carolina also offers two of the nation's most distinguished undergraduate scholarships: the Morehead and the Robertson.

Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine, which has a circulation of about 1 million, has been providing Americans with advice on managing their money and achieving financial security since 1947.

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Contacts: To arrange an interview with Chancellor Moeser, contact Mike McFarland, 919-962-8593, mike_mcfarland@unc.edu. Shirley Ort, associate provost and director, Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, and Steve Farmer, associate provost and director, Office of Undergraduate Admissions, also are available. Ort can be reached at 919-962-9246, ort@email.unc.edu; Farmer is at 919-962-3992, sfarmer@admissions.unc.edu. Nicole Matchneer, The Rosen Group (212-255-8455, ext. 229, Nicole@rosengrouppr.com) can arrange interviews with Jane Bennett Clark, who wrote Kiplinger's story.

Web links:
Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, www.kiplinger.com
UNC background, http://www.unc.edu/news/compendium.shtml
Carolina Covenant, http://www.unc.edu/carolinacovenant